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tv   After Words  CSPAN  September 6, 2015 9:00pm-9:56pm EDT

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and have tried to give an intimate said of descriptions in the book lays any real white house and their real west wing compared to what you have seen on television. . .
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the three of us were the hard-nosed people in the campaign and looking from the outside, i thought they were not being a tough campaign. i say in the book that if he had been around he would have had him with a verbal two by four twice a day and they didn't do that. you remember that moment when he looked at his watch i saw that and i cringed off because i had any understanding of the political effect i must admit it didn't dawn on me that would be a political issue afterwards that i cringed because i knew him well enough that what went through my mind as he is saying how much longer do i have to
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take this abuse and he used a slightly different word. he himself used a slightly different word in an interview after and it is contained in the book but the fact is i can tell by looking at him he had really lost a lot of the fire because what he saw was in the campaign. he tried to get jimmy baker in and he came back to late i think. you are all great for coming. i will hang around and sign some books but if you would like please tell your friends i'm just trying to get george herbert walker bush of the united states the credits but he deserves and i think history will give him. thank you. [applause] >> thank you everybody for coming we will be moving now to
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the signing table over by the door past the register if you would like to chat with him a little bit more he will be over there please bring your books and i see most of you have them already. if you don't we have some of the register. thank you for coming. next on booktv after words program catherine talks about recent findings on poverty in the united states into reports of a growing number of american families surviving on virtually no income. she's interviewed by the representative democrat of
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wisconsin. >> host: hello, professor. it's so good to be here with you to discuss your book to dollars a day living on almost nothing in america co-authored by h. lewis schaefer with me start by thanking you for writing the book. >> guest: it was a labor of love. >> host: there are normative assumptions that most americans wouldn't believe and i would invite them to read the book first of all i think that americans don't think there are people that live off what the united nations describes as extreme poverty in the world. they think that people that are
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extremely poor are these little children that we see on tv starving to death and malnourished and they run off and get their checkbook so that they can send money. they don't believe people in the united states live off of $2 per person per day. so that is one enlightening part of your book. 1.5 million families and children. another thing that they won't believe is that most americans according to you and in this book was of the general social survey said that 60 to 70% of americans think that we have to provide more support for the poor and yet when you say that we need to provide more welfare to them and they think that is
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true. another normative assumption that i'm so happy you wrote the book is that most people think of people that have public support as being folks that ronald reagan described that had 80 names in 30 addresses. >> host: much of what reagan said wasn't true but years later when he was investigated. the most amazing thing before i get into the questions is the people that are poor want to work.
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i am just on a dalia basis beaten over the head by my colleagues with the notion that they don't want to work and they are lacking a personal responsibility and in your book you described the folks here that he followed up at eight in the book as those that were connected in the workforce in some style so let's start with my first question. you start the book out by describing we talked about the
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welfare reformers touting the success of the welfare reform and i need some verification on this but 58% of low income single mothers were employed by 2000 this is after the welfare reform of 96 and the child poverty rates fell the consecutive years after 1996 and of course democrats and republicans were taking their victory laps and have been since then talking about how well off these welfare leaders were and then we have your book. so tell us what happened. >> guest: i just want to give you a little bit of background so you know how i first came to this. part of welfare reform asking
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recipients so i collected budget and told a story in the first book about how welfare wasn't paying enough to survive so you have to sort of work as well and you couldn't tell them they would take away the money. so ever since then. so when i study poverty for quite a while and then i went and studied urban families and so in 2000 by sort of came i sort of came back to the topic and i was in baltimore interviewing young adults and i began running across households for whom there was no means to
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support a young woman if you know baltimore you know that it's right in the shadow of the prison downtown in the structure and alicia just had a baby about three weeks ago and she was depressed. there was no food in the house. there was only a table with one broken chair and more worrying there was the formula. she was having trouble supporting the baby's head. so, we said i think we need to interview at you again because i was concerned about the baby and i thought maybe we could bring her some formula or something. so we gave her the $50 that were used and that we pay people and
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low and behold we came the next day and she is just heading out the door. her hair had been permed. she looked terrific. she had gone to goodwill and got a new pantsuit and she was on the way out having left her baby with mom to look for a job. and there was formula in the house. what we realized in that then that little moment or before i met my co-author luke schafer who is the one that analyzes this government survey of the program participation that i realized not only was it possible that a group of americans were living on incomes are so low we didn't even as a nation think it was possible. it they had sort of a magical power. if you have no cash in the
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developing world, there is an economy that you can subsist on. it's not a pretty story but a lot of the transactions are true without cash. here we are in the world's leading capitalist nation and to not have cash is almost cannot fix it, to not be a citizen. with that, she felt a sense that allowed her at least in a modest ways of this is way so this is where the negative $2 a day can come just running into alicia. we then followed her over the next two years just watching her struggle. that was the inspiration for the journey that has led us to four other cities with a lot of
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number crunching to tell the story from both the statistical perspective so we can get a national perspective into very deep and human way that we felt was necessary to tell the story so americans could really think through what does this mean. >> host: disc $2 a day different that you say was that these levels but you did make an effort to go beyond the urban experience. he went into appalachia and the mississippi delta and cities like chicago and cleveland and one of my favorite cities milwaukee wisconsin. >> to gather the data to tell us what it's like to live off of $2
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per day. what we found in the recent recession is that the snap benefits formerly called food stamps were the only form of income that some people had people have and you documented it in the book so that people have snap but they didn't have money so you sort of talk about the difficulties of provided if you can call it that so if you can tell us a little bit about these so-called snaps. >> guest: sandhu and some do and some don't interestingly enough they are eligible so the have to do you can actually see
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in the administrative data the same rise in households living without cash so that's one interesting thing you can see this ride is in rise in the number of people with the snap who are telling the food stamp office i have no income. >> host: i say this to my colleagues all the time this is a capitalist society. while it's not pleasant to have the great recession that we had in 2008, it's something that we can can play on happening in the kind of economy that we have is that when there is no work, we have a social safety net and snap served to provide people
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with something. >> guest: we see that in the statistical analysis we see the protective effect if snap in the great recession so if we count that in cash which we may not want to do because the reasons you know and i can talk about in a minute, we cut them out of the poverty and especially see that recession when there was no increase in the 2-dollar at a poverty once you count the snap as the only safety net we have left and it's incredibly important. the reason i say you may not want to count snap is when you don't have any cash and your kids need socks for school they need a backpack you're going to need something tangible and it's
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not fungible. some families do trade snap to provide essential goods for their kids to keep the lights on in the delta and mississippi one of the only reasons you can allow them to get the air-conditioning on us to sell the vast majority. now what is the problem with that? it doesn't cover all of the food a family needs in any case. so what you see in the cases where families are selling snap our three weeks out of the month if they have anything eating the 7-cent tax of ramen noodles and you can imagine the impact on hypertension.
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>> host: so you did not find that it was just in this matter of personal responsibility you say on page 45 of your book that, quote, a lack of personal responsibility obscures the fact that there are powerful ever changing structural forces at play and then you start talking about how the service sector employees also engage in practices that would never accept that people out for failure. so here we are, we have workers
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come the people that want to work according to you people that don't want to go on welfare according to the book we talked again about one of the recipients that refused to go down to the office to apply. can you talk to us about that? >> guest: one nice thing about having these government statistics is if you can play the numbers off against each other you're talking about ray mccormack in ohio who still will not go on ten f. and sees herself as a worker and during this time we spend in cleveland we began to ask who are the 2-dollar a day for and what can predict the spell of the poverty of these interdependent but have just fallen off the rules or is
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there another story and what we found was remarkable over the prior two years only 10% has claimed even a nickel from the program. but 70% had an adult working in the formal labor market so our story is one of the people wanting to see themselves as workers taking pride in network status assuring the welfare workers as something that is unacceptable something that violates the sense of who they are but it's become degraded and employers are aching out efficiencies from labor practices like on call contracts where you can be called at any time that you're not guaranteed
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any average and you show up and it is the exposure. >> host: i wanted to know what's in there so can you give some examples of this? >> guest: in terms of scheduling, when you can't predict what your schedule is going to look like so if you are a mother with kids it's hard to pair these jobs parenting. the other problem with these jobs, the full-time zero our contract is that you never know what your income is going to be sweet is impossible to plan. working a double shift becomes almost impossible when you can't predict what a shift you will be on in the first job.
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>> host: they say to you you are a day care worker, a waitress in a restaurant, you are to be on call for saturday afternoon so therefore you can't babysit or do hair saturday afternoon because you have to be available to go to work and if they don't call you to work you don't get paid so you can't predict your income and these are regular work practices by even some of the large employers you also talked about people not having safe work conditions. >> guest: jennifer fernandez had maybe the worst job in the book. she gets the custodial job after being homeless on and off for three years and finally landed
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this job and has these two little kids, she and both kids have asthma so she goes to work for chicago city in the first she's claiming corporate apartment buildings but then the work slows, winter sets in and of the only contracts the company is pulling in is to foreclose houses on the south side so south side so there's no heat in these homes, there's no power could accrue from chicago city arrive. they unlock the door, they never know whether this is being used as a shelter for wildlife. there's broken glass and they are expected to clean up these places. they are hauling water from the restaurant and scrubbing the frigid homes until the skin is
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just sort of falling off their hands and of course jennifer began suffering of asthma because of the other toxic that she's exposed to so then she gets sick and they end up in this cycle of illness and as she comes to work anyway but her employer says you're going to get the rest of the crew sick you go home the employer punishes her by giving her less than full-time hours so by the end of the work she's only getting half time hours so she leaves the chicago city said she will have time to search for another job but meanwhile the whole family has been in and out of the hospital these attacks exacerbated by jennifer bringing
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sickness. >> host: they wouldn't tolerate this because they have other work protections and so on of which - >> host: you talk about the wage staff as something we say if we have better character they would set of personal responsibility and they would be well and work supports we know they don't have a pension and often that they don't have health insurance but these are things that people don't think about. they take the environment for granted. what is wage that? >> guest: common practice is with hotel. so you're told you have to clean the room before you clock and so you put in 45 minutes before you're allowed to clock in and then you are paid minimum wage to these kind of practices where
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your payday minimum wage or your force to clock in or out in ways that don't capture the full day you are working overtime but you're not into this also happened at the style she was working downtown ten to 12 hours a day not being paid overtime so the wage staff it's a huge problem in the country and its something that isn't often talked about. >> host: let's talk about something the middle-class families may be able to take for granted or maybe not in purse crispy six personal days, sick leave. we want to talk about the employee of the month of the award even if you talk about in the book that has been cited for
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being of the employee of the month. >> guest: she is an amazing woman. her name is reina and she has a beautiful daughter and she works at kmart for years and even though they never give her more than part-time hours but they closed down when super wal-mart comes in so she sure did because searches and finds a job at wal-mart and she says again i can't emphasize again how important work is in the lives of these folks and so she decides that she's going to memorize all of the barcodes on the produce items because that is what takes the longest sushi devices this method and by the way she is so poor and neglected by the time she's 90-years-old she no longer has teeth so we
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are talking a deeply poor young woman from a deeply poor family. anyway, she reads the bar code numbers into the recording device on her cell phone and she goes home at night and she turns it on and an endless repeat as she's able to sleep she remembers mnr miscounted information and she prefers the day shift because she likes to work hard and she's paid a dollar more but she doesn't like to be bored, she likes to be busy and has so many medications that it has a special place in the employee locker room to keep the merits and the bosses know sometimes she's going to have to go and get her medicine like her as much as and that she's working and living with extended
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family independent exploited the situation where she has to turn over a lot of her pay in return for the use of the car so her pace as to cover the use of the car into the gas and she just made the payment. so she just gassed up the car and made the payment to this extended family member she gets in the a car monday morning and there is no gas. she has no money left. he says i spent all your money paying the rent and doing other things, so she's frantic. she's furious. and she is up in the tried and the store is three hours away on the bus. she called her manager after winning employee of the month twice in six months and he says
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if you can't find a reliable way to get to work, just don't bother. >> host: so she lost her job? >> guest: she lost her job. >> host: she lost a minimum-wage minimum wage job and didn't have a personal day all of us can take for granted if we were to have this sort of emergency - >> guest: there is no give and that is a critical feature of the jobs that you have people that have lives that require some give and low-wage marketing that increasingly has no reason to give you a gift because there's ten people lined up for the job. >> host: you talked a little bit about - you talked a lot about how the situations of people that are part of the $2 a day per person subjected to a lot of them double up with other family members and that ought to
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be the charm of some poor people and those that fled with other poor people are able to share and make it so what did you find in your research? family is the first line of defense and we spend quite a bit of time talking about paul who becomes the shelter in the store before this extended family who are all in the pizza business together when the storms go bust at the same time here's the whole family business that goes belly up i believe in 2009 and everyone ends up at paul's house, which tells the story about how this little two bedroom home along the avenue on the west side of cleveland is just crawling with people.
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i met paul at a the food pantry in cleveland and he was there with 12 of his grandkids and i didn't realize there were another eight. that was a protective thing that we can contrast that to the story when she doubled up with a relative in texas where she had grown up as a child and her mother had grown up and what happens with jennifer jennifer has multiple double ups because often times what sort of seals your fate as a 2-dollar a day per person is that you've got some dysfunction in your family network and that's part of this noxious stew so anyway of course in jennifer's case, her
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beautiful little girl ends up being arrested by george and they flee and make a bedroom out of an office because it is a men's shelter. they go to the police and the entire family turned their back on jennifer poor reporting her uncle who manages a country club there's a story it is a story of madonna harris and her little girl, they are doubled up with her mother and she has a foster sister that just ponds her and she ends up in a psychiatric ward after this other little girl just - is so humiliating to
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be this poor and brie on a bus so ashamed and there are so many times they are in shelters for three years before they landed in a situation that when this cousin taunts her and ridicules her again and again, she loses it and after spending a month in a psychiatric hospital. >> host: one of the things that is really heart-wrenching is when the mother had a much younger boyfriend, husband and the much younger boyfriend and husband were the abusive partner that made her choose between him and one of the other kids and made the mom put the daughter out. >> host: this is the story of tabitha who i think is the real star of the book in many ways an
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exceptional 18-year-old with such but can reflect on her situation in ways that you almost never see. so there are five kids along with tabitha who divorce and she marries and gets together with cliff and i believe they have nine more children. and he's a farm worker down in the delta he works on and on again as a poorly paid farmhand who is a drug addict and just a brutally abusive and in fact when you go over to their house and noticed that half the windows are boarded up and that is because when they lock them
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out he thumps his fist and in any case the kids are always trying to defend their mother and a fight breaks out and they run into this sort of joined convenience store liquor store down the road and he chases her and the kids follow and it there is a confrontation between tabitha and cliff and cliff says you have to choose and she says why don't you go with a friend of yours for a while? >> host: i can tell you when you talk about the need for money one of the things you can't pay for his rent with
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snap. you can't pay for it without money and if you start off by talking about how a lot of your passion for the subject started with your research in the project and of course a lot of us were jubilant about tearing down a lot of the so-called projects because we thought they thought that they purchased crucibles or crime and other sorts of the social ill that we now are experiencing the real dearth of affordable housing and not only that but your book talks about 1990 to 2013 it grew faster than insulation in every region of the country by 6% and then real income dropped by 13%. the housing and urban development services that we should spend no more on housing
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and that would include electricity and so forth and people are finding themselves can even those that are not living on $2 per person per day spending 50 to 70% of the income on housing just by definition. people that have no money are at risk for being homeless, for having to double up with unscrupulous relatives that moved from couch to couch the salvation army. we talk about several of these people using the library system to clean up and that is a struggle so when you are part of the 2-dollar per person per day group, housing becomes one of the major struggles and the ability to protect your family
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becomes impossible. and just having a way to get to work. what's your address. >> guest: we have a chapter called a room of one's own and what she dreams up for her daughter and fantasizes about the time when she has a place of her own when she will be able to create a dora the explorer room and the special blankets and the canopies and some days i will have a home of my own it is true that the rent has risen and we argue that the crisis is at least as much about the wages as it is about the rising rents rent but the combination of the two is talk toxic so describing
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it to you the calculation that she was living in when they (-left-paren the buck of course we've been in touch with her ever since what they try to paint the picture she's living in a neighborhood in stockton on the west side. the house they rented was completely stripped of most of its wiring and copper pipes in the time between the old tenants moving out and then moving into the scrap came and wiped everything out and they moved in but quite realizing this they were desperate and the landlord of course refused to fix anything so you have ray and her
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little daughter and george van unscrupulous guy who basically takes the borders and collect the checks in the fold for the return bringing the ssi. >> host: they become victims to real predators, landlords, employers, this whole subculture of people that take advantage of how vulnerable people with no money are. >> host: >> guest: associates with george and his wife camilla who is a chain smoker and then there's an elderly disabled man who's very sick and there's a young disabled couple that have profound mental disabilities and vendors to whose mother drops
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them off one day for a play date and doesn't come back. there is no running water so they have to go back and haul water from a broken pipe. there's one there is one outlet that still works upstairs and especially in the neighborhood where all the homes are built out of wood so yes exactly this is a could of mutual exploitation that goes on in the bottom when everybody doesn't have enough for anybody so the way to get by its kind of the opposite of the image that we have of the happy poor who are sharing into supporting a darker picture. >> host: i just want to give back a little bit on where we ought to go from here and talk
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about the health care of the people in the buck. it was amazing to me that you developed enough trust and confidence of many people to admit that they participated in an informal economy that they did things that were legal or a moral and that attracts with what a lot of people think about poor people anyway that they are lacking in character and i was wondering why you shouldn't judge them and say that it's their lack of personal response body and character that got them in this situation in the first place. how do we connect the worthiness
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with their behavior? >> guest: one thing but does that you do not often see as we follow the families for seven years each. it was an incredibly intense experience and an incredible privilege frankly but by seeing these people as people over a long period of time it allows you to understand the conditions under which they were willing to do something so i thought for exple that she would always see the food stamps that were deeply immoral when not doing so would have threatened the well-being of her kids. all the time they sold food stamps for the very large family who was the hungriest family that you ever met was when she had to pay to keep the
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electricity on so this little town in mississippi which in six months the temperature had gone from 9 degrees to 109 degrees so living without power and that kind of environment is unsafe especially when you have young children at home so this is important to the narrative because you don't want to take your subject is worth of face value. you need to watch and observe and understand and ask the question that you know people watching c-span or we've got fox news here in the building or msnbc. and you need to explore those over and over again as you sort of watch and live life with these folks and i think in the end the reader can judge from
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themselves because they learn a lot about these people. but my sense as a researcher coming out of this experience was a profound sense of fair care but for the grace of god. of course i would do these things if i have to ensure that my child wasn't ridiculed at school. >> host: i can tell you some of the things that struck me were the conclusion that you've reached. obviously you thought about the job creation was important and of course all politicians talked about we need to create jobs obviously raising the minimum wage is an obvious sort of
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solution and your book really recites the data that doesn't destroy the economy to do that. but many of the folks here don't have the skill set quite frankly to take on a. you talk about the situation in the delta and talk about how there's a lot of automating agricultural techniques and so what if the jobs have been lost to technology and it wasn't just individual families, it was the entire community that was impoverished by a the jobs and money in that community. so, i guess there's a couple of
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- what do you do suggest i guess the conclusion that he reaches we should just go back. although you were very critical of starting from ronald reagan all the way to the welfare in 1996 was very critical of people who use a different reform welfare, they killed it. and we don't have a social safety net with money. you describe all of these people but then you say we shouldn't go back to asp c.. >> guest: we learned a fundamental truth by talking to these people and hearing how they think about the world. we do sort of pin the rise of the poverty on welfare reform but none of the respondents think welfare is the answer.
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they see themselves as workers and in some ways they've created the poverty but it also kind of made a bargain with people at the bottom. is that if the name of the act was personal responsibility if you engage in personal responsibility we will give you the work opportunity so as we showed people have entered the labor market they just filled with their part of the bargain. but we have a revolution on the work opportunity angle. there's not enough work to go around not just in mississippi but in chicago which is boomtown compared to mississippi. there's not enough in cleveland ohio and certainly not enough for tim stable stableford and automation is likely to make
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this worse. so when a lot of economists look at this they say maybe we should create a really rich unemployment system but it seems to us that went against what the respondents wanted to work even if mary in the last chapter can stand on her feet more than 20 minutes she wants a job and if you look around america even though they are generally low skilled, there is so much work to be done. we don't have enough afterschool programs. the streets are full, the parks are not kept up and able to open all year around. the libraries are short staffed weekend opened the recreation centers so what we call for is a radical rethinking of what it
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means to work the opportunity. and we think that given the fact that we are in a country that are the closest and ship and everybody buys that we need to find ways as connecting the opportunities like the old work programs that we saw in the depression. >> guest: that's right. can we think about ways even through stability and lawyers and we have proposals for how you could stimulate the private sector and public sector to make sure every american who wants to work can get a job. we do say that we need a functioning safety net and there will always be time in which somebody won't be able to work for some reason. so, we need to restore the tennis as a responsive
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guaranteed short-term way to address the conditions that we see. >> host: with all these complaints people had about asp c., it was a safety net that worked like food stamps but during the great recession that's the time that we should have expected to go out and up and they didn't and that is one of the reasons you raised in the book we provide a block grant of $16.5 billion because of the flexibility of the 11 billion
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diary this rate, $11 billion is so short that flexibility so there is a perverse incentive not to actually provide the money to the poor you can balance the state budget of 11 hillbilly and dollars and shore up to make a - $11 billion shore up job search that may not lead to actually finding a job and you can use the flexibility and ways to advert from the benefits thank you for writing this book and i guess i just wanted you to sort of wrap it up i commend the book to those in the audience but especially to those people that are truly in search for a model that can emulate a poverty
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for those folks that just the leave if they just get up they can find work. sometimes there is no work when there is work they pay substandard wages and don't provide the work protection and are housing policy needs to be fortified so that's why i want to make sure in the last few minutes that we have together that you share with me to take away is that we ought to get in this book to help us help me with developing the policy going forward. we are going to reauthorize the tennis. what would you put out there as some of the main guideposts that
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we ought to do? >> guest: the biggest proof is that they do refuse to take them even though they are eligible. i think that's really something. the work is so important that they can't sacrifice this work or identity worker identity to stand in that line that i said in with madonna harris as she was convinced that they didn't give out any more into the main take away main takeaways we didn't have the revolution. welfare reform but a lot of people to work. that was a good thing. that was a very good thing. because of changes in the labor market may be the crafts


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